Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  12/28/2006
Modified:  12/03/2009
Date Climbed:   12/27/2006
Author:  doumall
 Humboldt Winter Summit Ski Descent   

-Bottom of South Colony Lakes Road to 11,000' with Snowmobile
-11,000' up Southeast Couloir of Humboldt to Summit
-Ski Descent of Southeast Flank/Gully

Stats (not including snowmobile):
-Elevation Climbed and Skied: 3,060'
-Mileage: 2.5 miles

The Crestone Group:

Northern Sangre De Cristo 14er Group from the East

The Plan:

The first Blizzard of 2006 allowed some big peaks to be skied early in the year which generally dont hold good snow for summit ski descents. My second objective after Bierstadt was Humboldt in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. A good buddy of mine and I planned on getting both Humbolt and Lindsey on this trip, but another large upslope storm system put the Kibosh on Lindsey. We stayed the night before in a nice place in Westcliff. Although I dont remember the name, I highly suggest this B and B. Its on the main strip one block North of the 69 96 junction on the West side of the street. Good breakfast, nice rooms, very friendly people. After checking in, we headed to the local pub for some beers and pool.

Snowmobile to 11,000' on South Colony Road:

After eating breakfast at the B and B, we headed to the bottom of the South Colony Road and got the sleds warmed up. The day started with high cirrus and warm temps, the beginning of Blizzard 2006 number 2.

Preparing for the day

Chris Davenport and Nick DeVore skied this peak four days ealier and used sleds to get up to 11,000', so we knew this would be an easy sled in. Fritz was battling a hangover so after he puked up his breakfast we started skinning up the woods toward treeline on Humboldts Southeast Face.

Summit Ascent:

Davenports skin track was obviously made in radically different conditions as it was pretty much useless and at one point took us through some heinous willows. Significant settling and some melting had occured as no experienced ski mountaineer would choose this route in the condition we found it. Or,maybe he's just so strong it doesnt even matter to him, hmmmm

Views of Broken Hand Peak opened up to our west as we made treeline. Unforturnately, it was at this point we realized we waited a few days too long to get good conditions for a summit ski. The southeast gully came into view and showed snow pack only half the way to the summit. This view was also the most foreshortened mind "beep" I have ever seen on a climb. The gully extened all the way to the summit and is nearly 3000' of vertical, but it seemed like 1000' away. The map says thats the summit, naaa that cant be the summit, can it?

Looking up Humboldt's southeast gully from near treeline

I have since looked at the pics of Chris's climb and he had much, much more snow than we did. Fritz bonked around 13,100' due to beer head but offered to hang out and film me ski after I ran up and got the summit. The remaining 950' of climbing was over a snow and talus mix but provided for quick vertical. I snapped one of my poles in half in the progress. Great, one pole rock skiing was in my future. The summit appeared abruptly with the mighty Crestones behind. Quite a freaking view in summer, in winter its jaw dropping.

Summit of Humboldt with Crestones and Kit Behind

Ski Descent of Southeast Flank/Gully:

I was lucky, there was a snow drift on the summit which allowed me to get a summit ski descent. It was 30 feet from the summit cairn, but actually taller than the summit cairn, so I am calling it official. It only lasted about 50 feet before I had to billy goat to the remaining continuous snow.

Skiing off the Summit of Humboldt

When I say continuous snow, I mean I didnt have to take my skies off, but the skiing wasnt pretty or all that enjoyable in the upper half of the gully. Heres why:




After getting through the chocolate chips, Fritz and I both got some good turns down the remaining snowfilled gully, which was windboard styrophome. The snowpack was stable, but was quite slabby especially on skiers right of the gully. This section of the mountain will likely rip to the ground with the large load dropping on it right now. Here are some action pics.

Fritz gettin some despite being an old man

Me skiing just above treeline with one pole

The ski out through the rotten, cliff ridden, deadfall freakshow forest to the sleds was fun fun fun.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great winter trip
12/24/2009 14:50
Well done. Me and a buddy are fishing for ideas for a winter climb we can do around New Years and this was very helpful. I think the views alone of Crestone Peak and Needle would be worth it in itself!!


Have at it
12/24/2009 18:37
It is a fun trip. That gully will slide big in the right conditions, sure you know that though, good luck.

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